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In Praise of Small Presses October 17, 2010

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in faith, fiction, literary fiction, small presses.
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Topic of the Week: October 18-22, 2010

Joyce Hinnefeld

Small presses are often more willing to take chances on authors with books that don’t fit a conglomerate publisher’s lists. Authors who once published with a small press can fill a Who’s Who of Publishing and some have even  have become household names. This week in #litchat we’re discussing the importance of small presses in providing a literary landscape for authors whose work might otherwise be overlooked.

Joining us in #litchat on Friday, October 22, is Joyce Hinnefeld, author of 2008’s In Hovering Flight and recent release, Stranger Here Below. Both books are published by the small press Unbridled Books. Stranger Here Below zig-zags through a century of history as glimpsed in the alternating POVs of several interconnected women. It’s a story of abstract design, tightly woven with character–the kind of novel that big commercial houses often praise, but ultimately pass.

Hinnefeld graduated from Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana in 1984, and attended graduate school at Northwestern University and at the State University of New York at Albany. She has lived and worked in Chicago, New York City, and upstate New York, and she now teaches at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

She has published fiction, poetry, and essays in a number of print and online journals, and her book of short stories, Tell Me Everything (University Press of New England, 1998)—called “a beautiful and wise collection, with no wasted words” by judge Joanna Scott—received the 1997 Bread Loaf Writers Conference Bakeless Prize in Fiction. Her first novel, In Hovering Flight—called “as quiet as twilight and just as lovely” by Ron Charles of The Washington Post—was the #1 Indie Next Pick for September 2008.

Follow Joyce Hinnefeld in Twitter at @jhinnefeld.


Second Chances September 20, 2010

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in Christian fiction, faith, fiction, inspirational fiction, religion and mysticism, winners.
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Charlene Ann Baumbich


Starting over. Life is full of times when people leave behind one way of life to assume another. Whether a deliberate choice, an unconscious gravitation to what is needed/missing/wanting, or a life-altering event thrust upon a person without preference or desire, stories of second chances are excellent reading. This week in #litchat we’ll discuss books with themes of second chances.

Guest host on Friday, September 24, is Charlene Ann Baumbich. Divine Appointments, the second in her Snow Globe series, features a theme of second chances for more than one character in the novel.  In its July 26 review of Divine Appointments, Publisher’s Weekly wrote, “Josie Brooks [protagonist] is not interested in disruption. Everything in her life is organized, minimal, and efficient. A successful business consultant in Chicago with a type-A personality, she ruthlessly identifies and slashes any source of economic wastefulness with complete disregard for the employees themselves. Soon, everyone at Diamond Mutual calls her “The Dragon” as she orders the termination of decent, hardworking people for the sake of profit. Josie’s rigid life, however, mysteriously begins to unravel when a strangely alluring snow globe appears at her apartment. Soon afterward, Josie is forced to confront her own flaws and fears, beginning an emotional journey toward love, friendship, mourning, and new beginnings. A wide range of characters flesh out this latest installment of Baumbich’s (Stray Affections) Snow Globe series, most emerging impressively from the narrative. Particularly noteworthy is Baumbich’s ability to make Josie likable even at the height of her self-centeredness [LitChat emphasis]. Readers familiar with the first book in the series will note that the place, plot, and characters in the second book are all new, but having a second chance is still a central theme.”

Baumbich is an award-winning journalist who speaks and writes about the layers of life as she sees them, which is often slightly off center, mostly dead-on, and always through lenses of grace. Her highly successful Dearest Dorothy series of novels celebrate octogenarian spitfire Dorothy Jean Wetstra and the residents of small-town Bartonville. Her nonfiction titles range from Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This to Don’t Miss Your Kids!. Charlene speaks to the heart, the funny bone, and a broad age span. For more than a decade, Charlene has presented her most requested talk–“Don’t Miss Your Life!”–to audiences across the country and in Canada. Her creative pedal is to the floor, her energized words are ripe, her cranky gallbladder has been “left behind,” and her message is right on time.


Read chatscripts from this week’s discussions:

September 20 & 22, 2010:  Second Chances

September 24, 2010: author Charlene Ann Baumbich, topic Second Chances

Follow Charlene Ann Baumbich on Twitter: @TwinkleChar.

Topic of the Week: Faith, Religion & Mysticism in Fiction July 13, 2009

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in faith, fiction, literary fiction, multi-cultural fiction, religion and mysticism.
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Carleen Brice

Carleen Brice

No matter our background or our personal beliefs, we are surrounded by people who talk to dead people, who see ghosts, who read auras, who pray, meditate and believe in something or someone beyond this world. This week in LitChat we’ll discuss books that are based in reality, but have significant mystical or religious threads.

Joining us on Friday is Carleen Brice, author of Orange Mint and Honey and the recently released Children of the Water. Both novels have characters that may or may not be speaking from the great beyond. Orange Mint and Honey includes what may be the ghost of Nina Simone or another character’s imagination. The late grandmother in Children of the Waters leaves a letter for her granddaughter to find after her death, and may or may not be leaving other clues as well. Also, her characters have novel spiritual practices, like Billie in Children of the Waters, who speaks with her ancestors and believes they speak back.

Brice-ChildrenoftheWatersCarleen’s debut novel, Orange Mint and Honey, was an Essence “Recommended Read” and a Target “Bookmarked Breakout Book.”  For this book, she won the 2009 First Novelist Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and the 2008 Break Out Author Award at the African American Literary Awards Show.  Orange Mint and Honey was optioned by Lifetime Movie Network.

Her second novel, Children of the Waters (One World/Ballantine), a book about race, love and family, just came out at the end of June. Booklist Online called it “a compelling read, difficult to put down.” You can read an excerpt at her website www.carleenbrice.com.

She is at work on her third novel, Calling Every Good Wish Home, which, you guessed it, includes themes with mysticism and faith. And she maintains the blog “White Readers Meet Black Authors.”

We’re giving a way a signed copy of Carleen’s Orange Mint and Honey during Friday’s LitChat. We will blind draw a winner from names of everyone who participates–on topic–in LitChat during Carleen’s chat.

Follow Carleen at: @carleenbrice